KIDS THESE DAYS radio produced 84, one hour episodes that aired througout Alaska from August 2010 to July 2012 on a diverse array of topics - all of them about raising happy and healthy families in Alaska. When we'd meet listeners, everyone seemed to have a favorite show or story or guest that they'd heard on Kids These Days! - there was a lot to choose from!
So we looked up which full episodes were accessed the most here on our website and we've listed the top 10 most popular.
What's your favorite show? Tell us in the comments.
Olympic athletes occupy an international stage and it's a great platform for them to not only bring recognition to their country and their sport, but also to deserving causes. Here are a few athletes who use their talents to help kids in need...
1. Abby Wambach - this forward on the US women's soccer team lends her star power to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, a group that works to support those dealing with Type 1 diabetes. photo via fifa.com
4. Hunter Kemper, this 4-time Olympic triathlete and Ironman supports the work of the A-T Children's Project, a group that works towards a cure for Ataxia-Telangiectasia, a disease that affects kids' muscle control and immune systems. photo via atos.net
5. Kimberly Rhode, five-time Olympian medalist in shooting is the spokesperson for Kids & Clays Foundation, a group of shooting sports enthusiasts who raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses. photo via wikipedia
6. Missy Franklin, this young Olympic swimming star stands tall for the Excelsior Youth Center, a safe place where young women 11-18 with emotional and behavioral issues can heal and succeed. photo via usaswimming.org
7. Rebecca Soni, gold medalist breaststroker, supports GirlUp, a group of the United Nations Foundation that works to support the rights of girls in vulnerable areas of the world. photo via usatoday.com
THINK OF HIKING in Alaska and steep treks up craggy mountains come to mind, maintaining careful footing on ridges and days-long journeys in untouched backcountry. Whoa - settle down! Alaska's trails aren't all meant for Denali climbers in training. Because sometimes you want to push a stroller in nature, here are five Alaskan hikes to do for the scenery, exercise and fresh air...
1. In Juneau, try the flat-out beautiful Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail.
"A wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Highway. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic, including some bikes and horses, on this zero-elevation-gain hike. The trail features access to fishing holes in Montana Creek, vivid wildflowers including Siberian Irises, and scenic overlooks." (Source)
2. Great scenery outside Anchorage at Thunderbird Falls Trail.
At mile 25 of the Glenn Highway, take the Thunderbird Falls exit to access an easy, 1-mile hike much of which takes place on a boardwalk. "Birch forest on steep hillside overhanging Eklutna Canyon. Views of 200 foot high Thunderbird Falls." (Source)
3. Urban Anchorage's Coastal Trail offers 10+ miles of paved strolling.
For gorgeous views of Knik Arm, Cook Inlet, Westchester Lagoon, Sleeping Lady and guaranteed bird sightings, get on the Coastal Trail with your stroller or bike trailer. All paved, you can hop on this trail from three points - from the South access descend from Kincaid Park to the coast, from the North access start downtown on 2nd Avenue, or start in the Middle at the Point Woronzof overlook where you can spy both gorgeous sunsets and spot low-flying planes. (Source)
4. The Eagle River Nature Trail makes for a great day trip.
At the end of 12-mile Eagle River Road (about 40 miles from Anchorage), you'll come to the log cabin visitor center at the Eagle River Nature Center. A number of trails start behind the building - try the easy 3/4-mile Rodak Nature Trail that leads to a beaver and salmon viewing deck, or opt for a longer stroll on the 3-mile Albert Loop trail if it's not too muddy. (Source)
5. Calypso Orchid Nature Trail near UAF is for botany lovers.
This exotic-sounding loop near UAF campus, Creamer's Field and Georgeson Botanical Gardens gets its name from the orchids that bloom along the trail in spring. Just under a mile, take it slow to read all the interpretive signs. If you want more trail afterward - check out the Vireck Nature trail on the UAF campus. (Source)
Have fun and as always, be Bear Aware!
AS A FATHER I understand the need for recognition - it's great to be thanked for the effort us dads expend on behalf of our families. So this Father's Day I though I'd make some suggestions for thoughtful ways to recognize the dads in your life.
Let's put aside the usual coffee mugs, ties and sports jerseys for a moment (unless dad really likes that stuff, of course) and discuss a different kind of present - a meaningful gift that shows that you are thinking about his interests and what he enjoys is easier to give than you might think. In our home we attempt to give gifts of experience as opposed to giving stuff. Here is a list of some gifts I have received for past Father’s Days or wish to receive for Father’s Days of the future. My hope is that it may spark some imagination in how you recognize your father on this day and remaining days until the next Father’s Day.
1. Make something. As I type this post I can see a handmade card with my son’s face smiling at me. This was a recognition that was given to me two years ago and still makes me feel good today.
2. Give dad a break. I know that I never have enough time to do the things that I want to do. Give your dad some time to fish his favorite stream, take a run, or go and hike with buddies he rarely sees - not necessarily on Father's Day, but at a later date.
Hangin' with some dad friends
3. Give dad some of your time. Most dads have a weekly and one-time project lists. Offer to do some of these projects for him.
4. Ask dad what he wants for dinner. Our family menu seems to revolve around two people under the age of five. I am grateful, however, that everyone in my home seems to appreciate ribs, chicken wings and steak so I often get to enjoy my favorite meals. Your father may not be so lucky.
5. Take dad out to lunch. This is what I am doing for my father this year. My father rarely eats out and much of our time spent together is focused on his grandchildren and projects that I need help with. One-on-one time is a luxury and a gift.
5.5 Let dad ride in the wheely chair...
6. Send dad flowers. Yes, really. Some father’s may cringe at the idea of having a bouquet of flowers on their workbench at their workplace but you know your dad and if this would be a good idea. I enjoy receiving flowers and you may be surprised how many fathers would enjoy this too.
7. Give dad updated, framed photos. My father recently moved into a new work space. Within the first weeks I took him framed photos of his grandchildren and he beamed with pride. Updated photographs are always appreciated by fathers.
8. Recognize dad's hobby. Chances are your father has at least one favorite pasttime, so buy him something for his hobby. For a past Father’s Day I received an ID bracelet for when I go running. I wear it almost every run and I am reminded how much my family cares about me.
9. Give dad a date with mom. I need to spend more time with my partner. Our children are not old enough now to know this but when they are I would be very grateful for a date with my partner as a Father’s Day gift.
Yes, any gift and a card to recognize your father will be accepted and appreciated. Recognizing your father in unique ways or giving a thoughtful gift will truly show how much you appreciate and value him.
Happy Father’s Day fellow dads!
APPRECIATING TEACHERS THIS week got all of us at Kids These Days! remembering our own favorite educators. So we're calling them out here, thanks teach!
Who was your favorite teacher? Tell us in the comments below...
|Ms. Cagle, Glacier Valley Elementary, Juneau, AK: I remember two wonderful moments with Ms. Cagle. First, I had chapped lips and she let me use her lipstick one afternoon since there was no chapstick to be found. The other was when we were almost at the end of the book "Old Yeller." She was reading it to us, chapter by chapter. That day we all decided to stay in instead of go out to recess so we could finish the story. It was so sad we were all bawling at the end, even Craig McIntosh (my third grade love) and Ms. Cagle herself. I'll never for get those moments or her!|
|Mrs. Cox, Hardy Middle School, Washington DC: Mrs. Cox was the librarian at my middle school and taught a 7th and 8th grade literature class. She really fostered my love of reading, and is the first person I remember really talking about books with -- what feelings they brought out, seeing things from different points of view, what worked and didn't work in books. I ended up spending a lot of time before school and at recess with Mrs. Cox.|
|Mr. Lechtenberger, Service High School, Anchorage, AK: Mr. Lechtenberger looked like Santa Clause, but his demeanor was the exact opposite. He notoriously made kids cry over his unyielding teaching philosophy (hard work and nothing else). I liked this "tough love" style and his dry sense of humor. Mr. Lechtenberger taught me physics, and also how to succeed.|
|Ms. Vanderwood, St. Louise Catholic School, Bellevue, WA: Her 7th/8th English classes were legendary. Throwing dictionaries, making soft speakers stand on their desks to be heard, and demanding perfect writing, every time, Ms. Vanderwood was brash, loud; 4 feet, 5 inches of pure creative writing genius. From within the boundaries of our comfortable Catholic school setting, she somehow created a generation of expressive, insightful writers who entered high school miles ahead of their peers. It was she who taught me to write outside my comfort zone and never, ever, compromise my ability for the sake of a good grade. She may not have been my "favorite" teacher, but she certainly was one of two who greatly influenced my future as a writer.|
|Ms. Phillips, Southside Elementary, Shelbyville, KY: Mrs. Phillips had a round sweet face ringed by bouncy round curls, and she was always smiling. She radiated kindness. My first three years of elementary school were awful, but when my mother transferred me to Southside, all the trauma of my prior years was erased by the gentle, loving manner in which Mrs. Phillips conducted herself. She read to us. My previous teachers had threatened us with paddles to keep us in line. Mrs. Phillips told us that if we got our work done in time, there would be more time for reading. Mrs. Phillips didn't need discipline, she had our love.|
|Prof. Alfred Arteaga, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Alfred was a college professor who taught writing, literature and Chicano history. From the first class I had with him I knew that he would teach me valuable lessons - more than history, more than writing - he became my mentor, encouraging me towards making hard decisions without being too hard on myself as a writer, a woman and a human being. He passed away a few years ago, but the way he taught me to look at the world still lives on.|
CABIN FEVER SEASON is upon us!
According to Wikipedia, the noticeable symptoms of cabin fever are: restlessness, irritability, paranoia, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail. Sound familiar?
For our family, January and February seem to be the months when the phenomenon of cabin fever is most likely to occur. Although we prioritize outside time in the rain, sleet, or snow, during this period of the year the shortness of days and the changeable forces of nature can challenge our best intentions!
Despite these best intentions to get outside daily we were challenged with the perfect storm this past week. The storm consisted of very cold temperatures and every member of our family battling the flu. This storm led to some brief moments of cabin fever. Our young sons cannot put the feelings of cabin fever into words but the symptoms were clearly evident in our older son as the week progressed. At moments he acted like a confined animal pacing in his cage, then pulling out all of his toys and distractions.
Get on your gear and go!
Up to this point of the winter I would give our family a B- for our efforts to stave off cabin fever and here's how we attempt to do that:
1. Get outside. When temperatures are in the negative this is easier said than done. It is often during these colder months that just getting dressed to get outside can burn some calories. We notice significant changes in attitudes including our own when we spend even a short amount of time outside. Our mantra: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear!”
2. Do fun stuff outside. Just going outside is not enough of a draw for our son when the wind is howling and the cold temperatures are felt in his breaths. We have exposed him to some outside activities that we enjoy too; sledding and skiing which he enjoys! By doing this we can all get excited about going outside despite the conditions.
Try out a new winter sport.
3. Do fun stuff inside. (Just not in your own house.) Get out of the house by visiting a mall or other indoor space where physical activity is possible. In our community we are fortunate to have indoor swimming pools, open gyms, and a field-house. We get to the pool whenever the schedule allows.
4. Get social. Accept any invites to other homes for a change of scenery.
5. Invite in friends. Host a family for dinner or play date.
6. Check local schools' event calendars. Attend a theater, music, or sporting event. Most schools host many of these events frequently during the winter months.
7. Hit the playground. The darkness can add another dimension to the experience and finding the wind-sheltered areas of the playground can lead to educational conversation about how to deal with the elements of weather.
8. Go on a gallery walk. This is a family friendly event because there is a good balance of outside time and inside time and usually there are sweets along the way. Enjoying and experiencing art is just an added benefit of this experience.
9. Visit your library. It is not the best place for children to get crazy but winter weather is the best time to discover this community resource.
Turn cabin fever into outdoors chillin'.
The darkness and inclement weather in our state can be very oppressive. Cabin fever happens to most Alaskans at some point during the year. Be prepared for it to affect you and your family and be prepared to do something to make it go away!
AS THE WORLD continues to watch a terrible scenario unfold with the grounding of the Costa Concordia in Italy, attention is now focused upon the safety of such luxury cruises. The industry must be clenching its teeth for potential panic, either real or perceived, among both the media and would-be passengers who have witnessed the scenes on television and through viral video footage. I'm no expert in the cruising world, not like some of my travel cohorts who spend their lives sailing the seven seas. But what I might lack in nautical miles, I make up for in an overarching theme of uber-preparedness.
Hi, I'll be your cruiseship, let's get to know one another!
I’m an Alaskan, so almost every adventure our family endeavors to undertake requires careful planning, preparation, and attention, even when aboard a "floating hotel." Our last Alaska cruise was via Holland America, a classic vessel that held around 2,000 passengers and several hundred crew. We felt safe. We felt secure. We also felt empowered, because we were told to make it so. During a lifeboat drill (held within hours of our embarkation, by the way), the captain made it crystal clear that we, as passengers, held a certain amount of responsibility for our safety. Hmm, power to the people? I liked it. So, we did it.
All kids on deck! Learning the ship's areas can be a fun and safe activity for families to do together.
1. We knew our ship. As newbie cruisers, and parents, exploration of our sailing home-for-a-week was activity numero uno. Besides locating the kids' Club HAL, Lido Deck restaurant, and hot tub, we made sure everyone in the family knew where they were in relation to the lifeboat station we were assigned upon our embarkation, even the 4 year-old. We turned it into a game, actually. "Hey, see if you can be the leader and get us to Deck Five from the restaurant, okay?" Over, and over, and over. After a day or so, our youngest was so impressed by this new activity, he taught it to all his cohorts in Club HAL. We also carried maps of the ship's layout (mostly because I kept forgetting where everything was), and made sure our lifeboat station was clearly highlighted.
2. We knew our crew. Charming to speak with, anyway, we quickly realized the crew could be our lifeline in an emergency. During that lifeboat drill, we make sure kids knew who would be at their station, and also made sure there were no language barriers (as has been an issue this week with the Costa Concordia's crew). Could our kids understand and follow their directions? If not, who should they find?
3. We listened during the drill. Within minutes of the scheduled event, it became clear how easily chaos could reign. Some passengers didn't show up, some had mobility issues, and still others were hopelessly unable to follow even the simplest directions to "Put on the life vest." I cannot imagine trying to navigate a circus of that nature in an actual emergency. But our crew kept at it, repeated themselves endlessly, and over all, the captain's voice boomed on a loudspeaker to shush us into paying attention. And now we know why. We could help ourselves, at least to some extent.
AK Dad is ready to float!
4. We were ready. Before we went to bed each night, I laid out sturdy shoes, placed mittens and hats in coat pockets, and had it all right by the door (easy in our smallish cabin). Everyone also had his or her own headlamp (we like them for reading at night), just in case the power went out when we had to evacuate.
5. We made sure rules were followed. The basics, at least; no climbing on railings, no running on deck, make sure you wear non-slip shoes, and other kid-themed mantras. We clearly stated them, and absolutely enforced them.
No, I don't think the Costa Concordia tragedy should deter anyone from cruising, especially first-timers. Respect the ship, respect the crew, and take responsibility, certainly, but don't allow one horrible, tragic event to define the way you and your family travel. Life is too short for that.
Find more travel tips for your next family vacation at AKontheGO.com.
by Jessica Cochran
I COME FROM a craft-y lineage: my grandmother sewed most of my clothes and made more than a few toys when I was little. I spent many a vacation with her, spending my days at the fabric store where she worked, and evenings attempting to learn to sew. So making Christmas presents is something I’ve always tried to do: knitted scarves, home-made stuffed animals, funky quilts made from old nightgowns or t-shirts. But the thing about my craftiness is I’m far from a perfectionist, so my creations always look decidedly home-made.
And that’s why having kids is such a boon. Now, they make the less-than “perfect” crafts and everyone thinks they’re great! And I can help them without worrying if it will turn out ok, or if it’s nice enough, and just enjoy the messy, fun creativity of it all.
Here are a few of the things we’ve made over the years:
1. Baby Footprint Christmas Cards. Because I really thought everyone in my address book wanted to see the bottom of my firstborn’s foot?
2. Mitten garlands. We made these when my daughter was three. I cut a bunch of mitten shapes from felt – and came up with a bunch of things she could glue on them – ribbons, shiny things, more felt cut into various shapes. Then I sewed 5 or 6 to a piece of ribbon, and voila – a Christmas garland. We probably made 8 or so of these?? Grandma Kristie and Aunt Tracy love theirs (see that joy on their faces in the above photo?)!
3. Glass jar lanterns. Use watered down glue to paste tissue paper to a glass jar (add a coat over the top layer for protection); secure a wire hanger by tying more wire around the lip of the jar. Put a tealight candle inside and you have a beautiful indoor or outdoor night-time decoration. We didn’t follow any directions for this one (we copied one a friend had made at school) – but I found some directions for hanging the wire on-line. And here’s kind of what they look like:
One site mentioned using heat resistant glue but we just used Elmer’s. We keep them outside and they’re still looking pretty good after 3 years.
Image via: FamilyFun.go.com
4. Soap balls. This one came straight from Family Fun Magazine. We put little Hello Kitty trinkets and other animals in ours because we couldn’t find penguins! One note of caution: apparently one recipient from the Midwest thought our creation was some kind of edible treat and took a bite out of it. Yuck
5. ArtCards. At one point, my daughter’s art output was so high we could have wallpapered a high rise with her work. Instead, we turned them into sets of note-cards that we gave to relatives for Christmas. I cut out the best part of each creation, sized to fit an envelope, and either folded it over to make a 100% recycled card, or glued it onto a blank note-card. Each card was unique, and labeled on the back with “ArtCards by___”. I got the idea from art fundraisers like this one.
6. Bead Ornaments. A hoop of jewelry wire, some pretty beads and bingo, a gift! Or, make them long and dangly like these:
Image via: TheMotherHuddle.com
(Note: these ornaments are WAY easier to mail than the glass jar lanterns.)
I get lots of kids craft ideas from Martha Stewart, or Family Fun magazine and just adapt them to our skill level, or often, to whatever supplies we have on hand.
I always try to remember the most important part is to have fun – ‘cause Grandma will love it no matter what!
TRYING TO TEACH kids the value of giving is one of those abstract issues that can be tricky to talk about. We here at Kids These Days! appreciate the value of good books for helping parents have these discussions with their children, so we asked four youth services librarians at Anchorage’s public library for some suggestions.
1. The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry - Sue Sommers recommends this holiday classic with a surprise twist at the end. First grade and up.
2. My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult - Mary-Kate Fowee says this novel about two sisters - one sick, one well - is a great read for older kids, illustrating lessons about depending on family while establishing independence. Grades 8-11.
3. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney - Sherrie Douglas likes this book's theme of learning to give as modeled by a mentor and then taking what you learn out into the world. All ages.
4. 14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez - Linda Klein suggests this book for its pictures as well as its story about the Maasai people in Africa offering a gift to those grieving in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. First grade and up.
What are your family's favorite books about giving? Let us know in the comments below!